It’s all overhaul
‘Money will be no barrier to recruiting the players [Pep] Guardiola believes are crucial. The first is Lionel Messi… As well as Messi, he has identified Juventus powerhouse Paul Pogba as integral to improving the team. Bayern left-back David Alaba, 23, will also be targeted for a summer move… Barca centre-back and former Manchester United star Gerard Pique, 28, is another on the wanted list with doubts’ – The Sun exclusive, January 6.
‘Pep Guardiola will target Neymar and Sergio Busquets as he plans £150million Manchester City overhaul’ – The Sun, February 7.
‘City’s incoming manager wants to overhaul the club’s defence, calculating that it is better to clear the decks for a new central defensive partnership rather than keep [Vincent] Kompany on board. City are expected to clear out several other players in the close season’ – The Sun exclusive, March 17.
‘Surprisingly, perhaps, Guardiola does not believe a major overhaul is needed. He likes the look of the current squad’ – The Sun, March 22.
So that’s three overhauls (including two exclusives) followed by one ‘no overhaul’. Last goal wins?
‘Manchester City want to sell captain Vincent Kompany once Pep Guardiola arrives’ – Phil Cadden, The Sun exclusive, March 17.
‘Manchester City are planning a huge summer rebuild under new boss Pep Guardiola – but skipper Vincent Kompany will not be a casualty. City’s hierarchy have assured Kompany they will stick by him and try to solve his persistent injury problems, to enable him to flourish under Guardiola’ – David McDonnell, Daily Mirror, March 22.
Mediawatch knows which one it is inclined to believe.
The Daily Mirror have got all giddy about English strikers. Very giddy indeed.
‘Title race special: The home-grown hitmen gunning for glory’ reads the top headline, while the tagline is even more hard-hitting: ‘Kane and Vardy are front-runners in a new pack of free-scoring English strikers chasing titles, Europe and then glory for the Three Lions.’
Now, we’ll give you Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, even if Vardy does only have four goals in his last 16 matches. That’s hardly ‘free-scoring’, but we’ll let it slide.
Next comes Danny Welbeck, who has scored three goals after a long-term injury. Good recent form, but let’s settle down a touch. After that comes Marcus Rashford. Aren’t we getting a little carried away including him in a list of players ‘chasing titles and glory for the Three Lions’?
Last in the list of five comes Andy Carroll, who has scored four goals in all competitions this season. Forgive Mediawatch for wanting our scoring to be a little more ‘free’ than that.
As part of the Daily Mirror‘s ‘Goalden generation’ feature, Darren Lewis writes on Andy Carroll:
‘Carroll was famously sold by Newcastle while Welbeck was sold by Manchester United. But both players have continued improving because of their current clubs’ willingness to play them.’
Woah there. Carroll has ‘continued improving’ since leaving Newcastle? Never mind his current club, we’re leaving out a pretty sh*tty spell at Liverpool aren’t we?
As an aside, seven of Carroll’s 19 league appearances have come as a starter, the last being on January 12. West Ham’s ‘willingness to play him’ basically amounts to a useful Plan B off the bench, when he’s fit. Which is almost never.
‘The maths is easy’
Unfortunately, the Andy Carroll for England bandwagon doesn’t end there. Not when Adrian Durham has a MailOnline column to fill.
‘It’s something Roy Hodgson shouldn’t rule out completely because as an impact substitute he could make a difference for England. Injuries have of course got in his way, but when fit is there anyone quite like him?’
‘I’m a huge fan of Danny Welbeck, who is showing true quality now he is back fit. Daniel Sturridge is top class when he’s not injured; Jamie Vardy has been brilliant all season of course; Harry Kane brings goals, he cannot be ignored… The fact that Wayne Rooney is captain means he is going.’
We know what you’re thinking; England only have 23 places in their squad and Durham has already mentioned six strikers. But Durham has the answer.
‘A lot depends of course on how many strikers Hodgson wants to take, but the signs are that he will take more than normal, and I hope so. Goals win games, strikers score goals… the maths is easy.’
Yeah, f**k it. Goals win games, so let’s take 20 strikers and three goalkeepers. Or, to change Durham’s logic: ‘Goals win games, strikers score goals, defenders stop goals and midfielders help create goals.’ It’s probably best to have a balance.
Mediawatch will say this only once: There is no way in this or any other world that Hodgson will take Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Kane, Vardy and Carroll to France.
‘Don’t take my word for it’
As part of his column, Adrian Durham is keen to point out that he is not the only one touting Carroll for a Euro 2016 place. Oh no.
‘Don’t take my word for it, this is the verdict of my talkSPORT colleague Ray Parlour, the former Arsenal and England midfielder, who was at the game [against Chelsea].’
So what was this glowing recommendation, one that will persuade the doubters that Carroll should be on the plane/Eurostar/ferry?
‘He put himself around, worked hard, did OK in the air, took his goal well, and after that goal it was all about Chelsea looking for an equaliser and Carroll put in a couple of good defensive headers from Chelsea corners.’
As an aside, Carroll didn’t make a single clearance against Chelsea. But he did do ‘OK in the air’.
Stars in their eyes
‘Timothy Fosu-Mensah says who Man Utd stars want to be manager next season,’ read the tweet from Metro Sport on Tuesday morning. Interesting, very interesting.
One quick click (they got what they came for) and the following quotes appear:
“Van Gaal is a man with real personality.
“I still think it’s great that I was able to make my debut under him. Do I hope he stays? Of course!”
The Metro, a world where ‘Man Utd stars’ – please do note the plural – and ‘Timothy Fosu-Mensah’ are synonymous.
This is the big one. pic.twitter.com/I5BJ4mqOIA
— Football365 (@F365) March 22, 2016
…to the Daily Mirror for getting the exclusive interview with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. All that media partnering was worth it in the end.
Ballsy shout of the day
‘City’s slump was not part of Pep’s blueprint’ – The Sun.
So you’re saying he didn’t want Manchester City to be in the Europa League rather than Champions League?
Adrian Durham idea of the day
‘Eden Hazard has been a joke. Player of the year last year, maybe he should be stripped of that after his appalling follow-up this season’ – Adrian Durham, MailOnline.
And while you’re at it, strip Stanley Matthews of his Ballon D’Or, because he hasn’t scored for ages.
The key words here, Adrian, are ‘of the year’.
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on England’s new kit
Harry Reardon on Ossie Ardiles and Tottenham
Iain Macintosh on B teams in the Football League Trophy